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New Oxford junior Alanna Molz has pitched every game for the Colonials this season and is averaging nearly 10 strikeouts per contest. Matt Allibone

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The New Oxford softball team had just dropped a 2-1 decision to Dallastown, but Colonials pitcher Alanna Molz still managed to crack a smile during last Wednesday's postgame interview.

The junior is usually smiling when she's on the field. Whether she's striking out batters, driving in runs or even taking a line drive off the shoulder, Molz tries to keep things positive.

It's a mindset she encourages her teammates to adopt as well.

"We're having a tough time staying positive, we really need to keep up our attitudes," Molz said. "Positive breeds positive. If we start being negative it's not going to end well.

"I want to do well for my team. If I show that I'm down, it's going to bring everybody else down."

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Luckily for the Colonials, Molz hasn't been down much this season. The junior has carried New Oxford to a 5-3 start, pitching every game while hitting third in the lineup. So far, Molz has struck out 77 batters (9.6 per game) while walking just eight. After going 6-14 last season, the Colonials are in the thick of the District 3 playoff hunt largely because of their junior pitcher.

While Molz pitched every inning for New Oxford last season as a sophomore, she remained mostly under the radar as the Colonials struggled as a team. But that doesn't mean opponents have been caught off guard by her success in 2017.

"Well, she wasn't any surprise to me because I play against her all summer long, and she's always been a tough competitor," Dallastown coach Howie Merriman said. "She did a much better job of locating her spots than in years past, but I knew what she was going to bring to the table. We prepped for her pretty hard."

A power-pitcher and strikeout specialist, Molz has posted some of the league's best individual performances this season. In a 7-0 win against South Western on April 3, she gave up one hit and zero walks while striking out a whopping 17 batters. A week later against one of the league's best offenses in Spring Grove, Molz struck out 11 and gave up one unearned run, while going 2-for-3 at the plate in a 1-0 loss.

How has Molz gone from promising player to one of the league's stars? From constant repetition. Molz plays year-round on tournament teams and spends most of her free time practicing with her dad. She's already verbally committed to play college softball at Division II East Stroudsburg.

As Molz puts it, softball is her "whole life." That's why she has so much fun on the field, and stays upbeat no matter what.

"I don't know where I'd be without it," Molz said. "It's helped me through a lot. These girls are my sisters, and I wouldn't be the same person without them."

Molz's teammates and coaches feel the same way about her.  The Colonials are a young team with three freshmen and three sophomores in the starting lineup, and Molz is relied on for her leadership as much as her arm and bat.

"She's like my daughter," New Oxford coach Vince Hall said. "Not just a great softball player, she's a great young lady. She knows everybody and everybody knows her.

"A lot of our girls are young and don't know the game, and she knows the game. She's a softball guru, she's positive all the time, doesn't let things get her down. Just a heck of an athlete."

Added senior captain Sierra Megonnell: "She is the jokester. She can be quiet out here most of the time, but when you get her alone she's all-out. She's just really hard-working."

While New Oxford followed a strong 4-0 start by dropping three games in a row to Central York, Spring Grove and Dallastown, the Colonials got back on track last Thursday with a 2-0 win over Littlestown. Although the team's remaining schedule doesn't get any easier, Molz is determined to get New Oxford into the playoffs.

"We definitely have to keep working hard," Molz said. "Nothing is set in stone, something could change just like that, so I have to keep working."

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